Another Summer Friday, another beautiful summer weekend about to kick off, and another item checked off our countdown of the Most Memorable Patriots Moments of 2015. I'm very happy to be moving on from Moment Number 5, as it wasn't all that much fun to write. The Number 4 Moment, however...now this one was a blast.
The list so far:
20. In the span of two weeks, the Patriots make two trades to acquire Keshawn Martin and Akiem Hicks.
19. A decision to kick in OT backfires as the Jets beat the Patriots in Week 16.
18. Otherwordly phenom and greatest player of all time J.J. Watt is held completely ineffective as the Patriots secure a playoff spot against the Houston Texans.
17. Chandler Jones and Akiem Hicks team up for a strip sack touchdown against the Tennessee Titans.
16. Stopped in the backfield, LeGarrette Blount sheds tacklers and rumbles for a 17 yard gain against the Houston Texans.
15. Danny Amendola and Tom Brady connect for some trickery against the Philadelphia Eagles.
14. The Patriots continue to kick in Rex Ryan's world with a season sweep of the Buffalo Bills.
13. A pair of James White catch and runs show off some agility, speed, and elusiveness.
12. The Patriots absolutely destroy the Dolphins on Thursday Night Football.
11. Julian Edelman outruns the entire Cowboys D on his way to the end zone.
10. A huge 1st down conversion on 3rd and 17 helps push the Patriots to victory over the New York Jets.
9. Jaime Collins hurtles the entire offensive line to block a PAT against the Indianapolis Colts.
8. Tom Brady reaches the 400 TD mark with a one yard pass to Danny Amendola.
7. Opening night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
6. The Patriots offense comes back in style against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Divisional Round.
5. Judge Berman overrules Roger Goodell and Tom Brady is allowed to play.
Our next Top Moment takes us all the way back to September, and all the way up to upstate New York.
4. The Buffalo Bills lose their Week 2 Super Bowl in spectacular fashion.
It may seem hard to believe now, but in September of 2015, there was a lot of optimism surrounding the Buffalo Bills. They had made some nice offseason acquisitions, shored up some skill positions, and opened up their bid to end the league's longest postseason drought in convincing fashion with a 27-14 beatdown of the Indianapolis Colts - the AFC Super Bowl pick for a lot of folks. They seemed primed to keep this great momentum going with their second straight home game against another AFC Super Bowl favorite and long-time division rival, the New England Patriots, and absolutely nobody in the Buffalo area was going to listen to anybody say anything other than this Week 2 matchup being the biggest game for the Bills in well over a decade. New England had just beaten the Steelers in their home opener, sure...but did you see what Buffalo did to Andrew Luck? Two picks, two sacks, under pressure all day long. And the Indy rushing attack? A meager 64 yards on 17 carries. Not a single 100 yard receiver. Tyrod Taylor was efficient, but didn't need to do much as the Bills ground game dominated the day with a combined 147 yards and two scores. Watching the game tape of DeAngelo Williams gashing the New England front seven all day, Karlos Williams and LeSean McCoy were undoubtedly licking their chops.
As was the entire city of Buffalo. Billboards. Radio spots. Advertisements. Television announcements. Deflated balls jokes out the wazoo. The Pats/Bills hype train started before the Colts game was even officially in the books, and by the time Sunday rolled around, Bills Mafia was in a frenzy. As the Patriots kicked off to start that game, it was almost impossible to hear anything over the crowd noise.
And the game couldn't have started out any better for Buffalo. After kneeling down in the end zone for a touchback, Tyrod Taylor led the offense on a 10 play, 80 yard drive in which they only had one third down. Short passes and runs were the name of the game, and Karlos Williams punched it into the end zone from 2 yards out to take a 7-0 lead. A stadium that couldn't get any louder somehow found an extra gear, and the earth started to shake.
New England's first possession? A three and out that netted two yards and forced them to burn a timeout because of an inability to communicate due to crowd noise. It looked like the Bills had officially arrived.
Not so fast.
The defense stiffened on Buffalo's next possession and the Bills actually went backwards before punting. Tommy B settled down, remembered it was the Bills he was playing, and went 62 yards in just over two minutes to tie it up with a Julian Edelman TD pass. Buffalo's next possession was a three and out that netted -9 yards, forcing a punt that led to a 28 yard Danny Amendola return and a Dion Lewis rushing touchdown just two plays later. Buffalo's next possession? Three plays, one yard, and a Malcolm Butler interception to set the Pats up at the Buffalo 30. Five plays and a Gronk later, it was 21-7 Patriots.
For some reason, Ralph Wilson Stadium wasn't so loud anymore.
It was a smackdown of epic proportions. The Patriots scored 14 in the first quarter, 10 in the second, and 13 in the third as the points rolled in. Buffalo was actually able to mount an incredibly impressive comeback, pulling the game to 37-32, before Tommy B was able to connect with Amendola for what was one of the best catches of his entire career to set the Patriots up for a few run plays to kill the clock and the field goal that would put them up by 8. Needing a touchdown and a two point conversion to tie the game with just over a minute left and no timeouts, Taylor went into desperation mode, and his very first pass was picked by Logan Ryan. Pats 40, Bills 32.
Almost every other year, the moment that would have made its way onto this list from that game is Amendola's catch, and it likely would have found itself somewhere in the 10-15 range; after all, this is a Week 2 game against the Bills...who the hell cares? But this was as satisfying a meaningless win as I can remember in a long time, as few things are more enjoyable than completely slapping someone around after they have spend an inordinate amount of time boasting and trash talking. Rex Ryan was furious, Bills fans were dejected, the Patriots had put up 40 on what was supposed to be an impenetrable defense, and all was right with the world. Whenever a fan base hypes up a Week 2 game as their Super Bowl and then goes on to concede 40 points, it has to be special. And that's why it's right up there at Number 4.
Full game highlights here.
As an additional tidbit, Barstool Sports' Dave "El Presidente" Portnoy attended the Bills tailgate for this game, and put together a pretty great compilation of his experience, which you can check out here. There's some colorful language and more than a little hydrated antics...but hey, what can you expect? Bills Mafia goes hard.